LA Independent Interview


The first thing I notice about Rebecca Romijn when she enters the room is her dog, Better. Better the dog. Better is a toy-sized brown poodle who has almost certainly appeared on a wry greeting card at some point in his career. At the moment, though, Romijn is holding him in her arms as she begins to take questions about her new movie, Godsend.

How diva-esque, you might say. Bringing one’s pet pooch along to an interview is something we’d expect from, say, a Zsa-Zsa or a Mariah. But Rebecca Romijn? The former supermodel who, for one brief, shining moment, made MTV’s House of Style actually watchable? Romijn, who always seems so down to earth while being drooled over on late-night television by Conan O’Brien? Romijn, the thinking man’s Jenny McCarthy?

Say it ain’t so, you might say. Well my friend, take heart: it ain’t. Rebecca Romijn deserves many labels. Gen-Xer. A-list movie star. Preternatural beauty. But not diva. In fact, despite living what Sheila E. once called the glamorous life, the Berkeley native is very much like you and me. She likes to laugh. She’s ambivalent about cloning. And she’s in awe of Robert De Niro.

“Pretty intimidated,” she says when asked do describe her initial feelings about working with the legendary actor. “You pinch yourself for a few days and then you have to get on with the work. He’s really low-key and really mellow - very, very, very funny, which set us all at ease.”

In Godsend, Romijn is Jessie, the wife of Paul (Greg Kinnear) and mother of 8-year-old Adam (newcomer Cameron Bright). Shortly after Adam dies tragically in a car accident, his grieving parents are approached by the mysterious Dr. Wells (De Niro). Utilizing the as yet untested genetic technology, Wells claims, he can use cells from the boy’s body to create an egg that will be implanted in his mother’s womb. Nine months later, she will give birth to a clone of her deceased son. Despite their misgivings, Jessie and Paul accept the offer. As promised, Jessie bears an exact replica of Adam. But the ultimate consequences of such a Faustian bargain have yet to be realized.

“I didn’t know much about [cloning] before we started,” Romijn admits, “but what I have learned is that it’s such an imperfect science. Dolly the sheep, for example, only survived a third the life span of the original. In the right hands it could be a good thing. In the wrong hands it could be a very bad thing. We did meet a doctor while we were [filming Godsend] who is working on cloning organs for health reasons. I think that’s fantastic.”

If presented with the opportunity, could she conceive of a situation in which she would choose to have someone cloned? “At this moment,” she says, “I wouldn’t do it. It’s not right. We’re not there yet.” Which is not to say that she doesn’t empathize with her character. “For the sake of the movie, I totally understand why this grieving woman, who’s just lost her boy ... If a man walks up to her and says he can bring her boy back to her, of course. What are you going to do? Of course she does it. It makes total sense to me.”

While playing movie mom to Bright, Romijn, who says she would like to have children one day, had the opportunity to pre-emptively sharpen her maternal skills. To hear her tell it, the results on one particular occasion were decidedly mixed.

“Cameron called me the first Saturday that we were [on location] and asked me to go the movies with him,” she says. “I was like, ‘OK.’ I went downstairs and I ran into Greg Kinnear in the lobby. I said, ‘I have a date tonight.’ He goes, ‘With who? With who?’ I said, ‘Cameron. He called me and asked me to go to the movies with him.’ He goes, ‘I’m going to the movies with Cameron tonight.’ I was like, ‘Oh, that little two-timer.’
“I called [Cameron] back and I said, ‘Well, what do you want to see?’ First he said he wanted to see Femme Fatale and I was like, ‘No. No. Just cross that off your list. You’re not seeing that until you’re 30!’ Then he said he wanted to see 8 Mile, the Eminem movie, and I said, ‘I don’t think that’s appropriate either.’ He said, ‘No, no, no, it’s OK. It’s OK. My mom said it’s OK.’
“‘Well, let me talk to your mom.’ So I got her on the phone and I said, ‘You know that there’s a lot of cursing and sex and drugs [in 8 Mile].’
“‘I know, I know, but Cameron’s making movies now and he knows that it’s only a movie. It’s OK.’
“‘Are you sure?
“So we took Cameron to see 8 Mile, and it was so embarrassing. I had to put my hand up to my face just to shield him from my peripheral. You see the sex scene coming from a mile away and Greg’s like, ‘If you were any kind of a mother you would take him out of here right now.’ And I’m looking, going, ‘Cameron, don’t you need to go to the bathroom? Don’t you want another Coke? Do you want some more popcorn? And he’s like, ‘Shhh!’ and his eyes are glued to the screen. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so embarrassed.’”
Now I ask you, dear reader, does that sound like the kind of Hollywood story a diva would share with a humble newspaper reporter?
Back to Better: You might be wondering how Romijn canine got his name. The explanation is bracingly simple, really. “He’s Better,” she says. “Look at him. [It was] better than any other name I could think of.”

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